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Increase the Number of Pull Ups You Can Do

Updated on February 9, 2012

Pull ups are the best exercise you can do to build impressive lats and huge biceps. No other arm exercise can compare. They also build you rock hard abs and admirable glances in your gym.

However, many people struggle to perform more than 5 pull ups, with some people not even being able to manage 1. The rest of this article will look at how to increase the number of pull ups you can do.

Increase the Frequency

This may sound obvious, but to increase the number of pull ups you can do, you must increase the number of pull ups you are doing. You don't train for a marathon without doing them types of distances beforehand.

You should be incorporating pull ups in your workouts 3 times a week. Continue with your existing program an add in the pull ups where appropriate.

Increase your pull ups for huge biceps
Increase your pull ups for huge biceps

Increase Your Repetitions

You need to increase the number of repetitions of pull ups you are doing to push the body to adapt. By performing a progressive overload in repetitions the body will increase in strength to handle the new stress.

Progressive overload means to do that little bit more each time. As the weeks go by you should be slowly increasing the number of pull ups you do each workout.

You can cause this overload by increasing the number of sets, reps or by performing some pull up sets more than once per workout.

A great way to increase the number of pull up repetitions you do is to use a pyramid. Pyramid workouts are great because they dramatically increase the number of reps you do, without you feeling the fatigue as early.

If you can currently do a maximum of 5 pull ups, do 1 pull up and then wait for 10 seconds, perform 2 pull ups and wait another 10 seconds. Continue until you have done 5 reps. This is a total of 15 reps. 3 times what you can do in a standard set.

Perfect Your Technique

Improve your pull up technique to increase your numbers. Improving your technique will waste less energy and avoid possible injuries.

Squeeze the muscles of the back as you pull and drive down with your elbows. Engage your core to stop you swaying. Your legs should be hanging and should not be raised. You should maintain a slight elbow bed throughout.

The major muscles targeted with pull ups are the lats and the biceps. As the lats are a much bigger and stronger muscle you should try and concentrate on intitiating this muscle group.

Stop at Failure

Stop when you can no longer perform a full pull up. You would not continue on the bench press if you could only lift it halfway, or squats if you could only go halfway down. But you see people performing pathetic pull ups with shocking form when they are fatigued at the end of a set.

When you fatigue, stop. Rest and then go again pumping out some pull ups in good form. Trust me this makes all the difference and you will be doubling the number of pull ups you can do in no time.

Increase the number you perform each workout by doing some sets at the beginning and end of each workout. During the middle of the workout while you do the other exercises or some cardio, your muscle are resting.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am a very athletic person, but can only do 2 pull ups (perfect form), non stop for 3 sets and 45 sec. rest in between. I used to be able to do 6 in December. Is it a good idea to work on pull ups for 7+ days in a row without rest (no more than 12 days in a row)? My goal is to get back to speed in 4 weeks or less, and I never had any injuries in my life.

    • tanjilovi profile image


      6 years ago from Bangladesh

      Oooooooo ... got itt thanks

    • almurray profile imageAUTHOR

      Alan Murray 

      6 years ago from Ipswich, United Kingdom

      Pull ups are performed with an overhand grip and chin ups with underhand.

    • agreenworld profile image

      Dawn A. Harden 

      6 years ago from CT-USA

      Good upper body strength training ideas. Women probably would not do these in the exact way you have outlined for men but I have seen good alternatives. Upper body strength is good for men and women. Thanks.

    • tanjilovi profile image


      6 years ago from Bangladesh

      Are pull ups are synonymous to chin ups ???

    • profile image


      6 years ago from Southern Michigan

      Well enough said, stressing proper form and exercising to muscle failure can build the big guns. I just wish I could stop doing pushups in the middle of the night.


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